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STUDIES IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER Rickert's account of textual affiliation might have to be refined. This possibility alone, raised by his own re-collations, might have inclined Dr. Ross to make other claims for his edition than that it presents the Miller's Tale "as Chaucer wrote it." As it is, his edition pursues to a more extreme position the logic of Manly and Rickert's work, whilst his re-collations raise the possibility, at least, that their account of the affiliationsof manuscripts might require modifica­ tion. This is not to criticize the choice of the Hengwrt manuscript as the base text for the edition,but only to reflect uneaseoverthe other claims Dr. Ross makes for his text. Only if the massive work of collation of all the manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales were undertaken again could one imagine an edition that differed from Manly and Rickert, with a similar claim to authority. The General Editors' preface makes it quite clear that this is not an aim of the Variorum Edition. The choice of the Hengwrt manuscript as base text for the Variorum, and Dr. Ross's own enthusiasm for its readings in this edition of the Miller's Tale, reflect the current standing of the text amongst editors and are in themselves an appropriate fulfillment of the Variorum's intention to record a history of scholarship. JEREMY GRIFFITHS Birkbeck College, University of London RICHARD ALLEN SHOAF. Dante, Chaucer, andthe CuTTency ofthe Word: Money, Images, and Reference in Late Medieval Poetry. Norman, Okla.: Pilgrim Books, 1983. Pp. xv, 312. $35.95. This is an ambitious, difficult, and stimulating failure, to review which properly one would need a full essay. I shall therefore limit myself to a few essential points. Shoaf's book "seeks," in the author's own words, "a late­ medieval poetics of reference," thus examining "the faith which assumes that word and thing do-and, moreover, shall-tally" (p. 14). In itself this is an extremely important goal, and at various points Shoaf rises to the occasion, particularly in parts Two and Three, which are devoted to Chaucer's Troilus and The Canterbury Tales. However, several objections can be raised. The first is that the accumula­ tion of several strains is difficult to control and produces a certain amount 242 REVIEWS of confusion. The author concentrates simultaneously on money, images, and words, which define the field of"reference." Yet money, images, and words"signify" in different ways, and I am not convinced that a thorough parallel between money and words is what one needs to clarify a late­ medieval poetics of reference such as it might emerge from literary texts, though they contain money imagery. Moreover, the author nowhere provesthat the sources he indicates for Dante's or Chaucer's ideas about the "referentiality" of money, images, and words are in fact such and do not merely constitute a general background. This is not to saythat Shoaf's analysis of, forinstance, thethreecantos 30 of The Divine Comedy is useless. On the contrary, a good deal of intel­ ligence goes into this first part of the book. Yet the impression one gets is that too much ingenuity leads the author astray into a world of his own, making him lose sight of the text and what it really can or cannot say or imply. The perusal of the Narcissus theme in Dante is interesting but exaggerated and obsessive, nor can one read Purgatorio 21 and 30-to quote but one instance-in the following manner (pp. 54-55): Certainly the suggested reading serves the logic of Statius's discourse. Virgil, the father, begot Statius's "ardor" upon the Aeneid, the mother. If, in fact, this is the correct reading, immediately apparent in its light is the seriousness of Dante's error when he turns "sinisterly" to Virgil as to a mother: if, at that moment, Virgil is "mother," then the Aeneidis "father"-and just so, asfrom the seed or source of the image, Dante takes from the Aeneid Dido's image as h1�r own. Dante ap­ proaches the Aeneidas if it were a father when, as Statius rather proves. it can only be a mother. Statius...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1949-0755
Print ISSN
0190-2407
Pages
pp. 242-245
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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